Consider The Additional Proposal That Swift Mentions

Consider the additional proposal Swift mentions in paragraph 17 of "A Modest Proposal." Explain the rhetorical strategy at work in that paragraph.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The narrator of this essay develops his plan to single-handedly solve the Irish famine problem through advancing a solution to the shortage of venison. He mentions how an American acquaintance he had assured him that this lack of venison could be solved if teenage children were to be eaten:

He said, that many gentlemen of this kingdom, having of late destroyed their deer, he conceived that the want of venison might be well supply'd by the bodies of young lads and maidens, not exceeding fourteen years of age, nor under twelve; so great a number of both sexes in every country being now ready to starve for want of work and service...

Note the justification he provides for this suggestion: there are so many young boys and girls of this age who are willing to "starve for want of work and service" that this would be a good solution to the lack of venison, as it would take these spare bodies and convert them into a form that would mean they no longer needed to starve and needed to be provided for, because they would be eaten. Rhetorically, Swift uses a monstrous argument conveyed in a serious and sincere tone to point out the monstrous attitude of the British towards the Irish famine. It is this that makes this essay such an effective persuasive document, as it condemns the British through their own indifference to the situation. Swift risks being labelled monstrous in order to point out the monstrosity of his audience.

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